Become a certified host

How do I become a certified host?

Step 1 of 2: Register as a business
Obtain a Business Registration Certificate from the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector. Visit The San Francisco Business Portal to learn more about applying for a Business Registration Certificate online.
Recommendations:

  • When you complete the online business registration, make sure to use the street address of your home where you plan to host short-term rentals as the "business location." Include the apartment/condominium suite number or suffix, if applicable. For example: "222 49th Avenue Unit B."
  • Indicate "YES" when asked if your business involves short-term rentals
  • Indicate "NO" for utility users tax
  • Indicate "YES" when asked if your business involves transient occupancy tax ("hotel taxes")
  • For the business type field, choose: "Accommodations."
  • For the business name you have a number of options, including using your own name (a fictitious business name is not mandatory), or using the street address number and street name as the business name.
  • If you already have a business registration for a separate type of business in San Francisco, then update your account with the SF Treasurer and add a new business location for Accommodations (even if the same address as your current business).

    Note: This step must be finalized before you can register as a certified host with our office.

    Step 2 of 2: Register to become a certified host
    Obtain a host certificate (valid for 2 years) from the Office of Short-Term Rentals. You may only offer (list/advertise) short-term-rentals after you have received this certificate, and your certificate number must be posted on all listings advertising your short-term rental. Review the eligibility requirements below. Please do not apply if you do not reside full-time at the individual dwelling unit (apartment/suite/home) as a permanent resident (please see the "Am I Eligible" Section further below).

    Click here to visit the SF Business Portal and register online. Choose the option that says: "Step 4: Apply with OSTR (Office of Short-Term Rentals)." You can also download the application and make an appointment to register in-person with the Office of Short-Term Rentals. Please note that staff can arrange for assistance in different languages, if needed. Also, in-person appointments do not result in a faster review timeline.

Why must I register to become a certified host?

Short-term rentals in residences are only legal if you are registered with the San Francisco Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector and have also received a certificate from the Office of Short-Term-Rentals.

If you are not certified and you advertise/rent a dwelling unit for periods of less than 30 nights, you are violating the City's short-term rental laws, and are subject to possible enforcement action, including substantial penalties.

You may host short-term rentals if you have a complete application pending review with our Office; currently reside in the dwelling unit; and there are also no City complaints pending against the entire property. Please note that our Office cannot require hosting platforms to operate a listing while an application is pending (but please contact us if you run into this issue). Also, please note that if you are a renter, our Office cannot require the property owner to allow your short-term rental activity in the event that private leases, or other private agreements prohibit such activity.

Violations of the City’s short-term rental laws are subject to penalties of at least $484 per day for each dwelling unit in violation. These daily penalties begin on the day that a Notice of Violation is issued by the Office of Short-Term Rentals, and continue to accrue until the violation is fully abated. Repeat violations may be subject to escalated penalties and referral to the City’s Attorney’s Office for additional civil and/or criminal penalties.

The San Francisco Property Information Map (under the "Planning Apps" tab) shows whether a short-term rental registry application has been approved for a property. No other identifying information from your application is posted online or provided to the public.

Am I eligible to legally host short-term rentals?

In order to start hosting short-term residential rentals in your home you must meet all of the following conditions:

1. Be the permanent resident
You must live in the actual dwelling unit that you wish to offer as a short-term rental for at least 275 nights of any given calendar year, as either an owner or a tenant. If your property features multiple dwelling units, you may not live in one dwelling unit, while operating short-term rentals in a different dwelling unit.

  • If you are a new resident, you must have resided in this specific dwelling for at least 60 consecutive days prior to your application.
  • If you own/rent a multi-unit building, you may only register the specific residential unit (apartment, suite, condominium) in which you reside.

Certain types of properties are never eligible for short-term rental. Please contact us at shorttermrentals@sfgov.org if you are not sure how your property is classified.

  1. Income-restricted affordable housing, including Below-Market-Rate (BMR) units and public housing.
  2. Student housing, dormitories and Single-Room-Occupancy (SRO) buildings.
  3. Buildings subject to an Ellis Act (No Fault) eviction after November 1, 2014 (even if by a prior property owner).
  4. Legally-established Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), a specific type of "in-law" or "granny flat" approved by the Department of Building Inspection. Only rentals/listings for 30 days or longer, per guest (30-day minimum stay), are allowed in ADUs. Please note that "housekeeping units" are not classified as ADUs; but are considered an entirely separate individual dwelling unit. Short-term rentals hosts must live in the same individual dwelling unit, so they could not reside in the main unit and utilize the "housekeeping units" for short-term rentals (or vice versa).
  5. Sleeping quarters in most shipping containers and outdoor areas, including tree houses.
  6. Sleeping quarters in vans or recreational vehicles (this may also violate the Police Code).
  7. Non-residential areas within buildings, such as living/sleeping quarters added in garages.
  8. Commercial office/retail or industrial (warehouse) spaces.
  9. Properties located in Treasure Island, Fort Mason, or The Presidio.
  10. Boats or similar watercraft (prohibited by Harbormasters); unless a sole operator at Pier 39 not subject to OSTR registration.
  11. Group Housing properties, which are subject to the Planning Code (plus other Building & Housing Codes), and are not eligible for registration as a short-term rental under Chapter 41A of the Administrative Code. Legal Group Housing properties may offer stays of no less than seven (7) days per guest.

Rules for Residential Hotels

  • A limited number of Residential Hotels are allowed to offer tourist hotel (short-term) stays in a portion of their rooms, based on a list maintained by the Department of Building Inspection.
  • Those specific rooms may be offered for tourist stays without registering with the Office of Short-Term Rentals. Operators may list these tourist-licensed rooms using their business account number (BAN) issued by the Tax Collector, in lieu of a short-term rental registration number.

Rules for Tourist Hotels or Timeshares

  • "Tourist Hotels" (which are different from Residential Hotels), and Timeshare properties (if approved as a timeshare unit by the Department of Building Inspection) are allowed to offer tourist hotel (short-term) stays in all units.
  • Tourist Hotels and Timeshares are not required to register (nor eligible) with the Office of Short-Term Rentals. These properties may still require a (separate) business registration certificate from the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector. Operators may list these specific units using their business account number (BAN) issued by the Tax Collector, in lieu of a short-term rental registration number.
  • Timeshare properties include 586-598 Bush Street (even numbers only), 1000-1006 Pine Street (even numbers only), 2655 Hyde Street, 3000 Pine Street, 329-333 Fulton Street (odd numbers only), 441 Mason Street, 501 Post Street, 710-730 Powell Street (even numbers only), 690 Market Street, and 900 North Point Street, 726 Sutter Street and 750 Sutter Street.

Rules for Live/Work Units or Artist Live-Work Units.

  • You can host short-term rentals in the residential portion of a live/work unit or "artist live/work unit," if you are a permanent resident of that unit and both live in AND host short-term rental guests exclusively in the "live" area of the unit.
  • Short-term rental activity (e.g. sleeping, lounging/resting, or cooking areas) is NOT allowed in the "work" portion of the live/work or artist live/work unit. This is typically noted as such in a Notice of Special Restrictions, or "NSR," recorded on the overall property.
  • You may not reside in the "work" area and use the "live" area of the live/work or artist live/work unit for short-term rentals.
  • Please note that many NSRs require that the resident of an artist live/work unit use the work space for specific types of arts-related business activities and hold a business registration for that specific activity. Short-term rentals would not be considered qualifying business activity.

Many private agreements such as leases, homeowner’s association bylaws, and Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) prohibit subletting (or use of your dwelling unit as a short-term rental). While the City does not enforce these types of private agreements, the Office of Short-Term Rentals strongly recommends that you review such agreements before submitting an application.

If you are a renter (tenant), in any type of property, you will need to provide a copy of your lease or rental agreement when you apply. We will send a courtesy notice to the owner(s) of your unit to inform them of your application.

If you are a renter and your dwelling unit is also subject to rent control rules, you may not make more than your monthly rent from short-term rental fees charged in the same month to guests.

If you are a resident (whether a co-owner or tenant) of a tenancy-in-common (TIC) building, or are a co-owner of your dwelling unit, we will send a notice of your application to all co-owners of the building.

To see if a property (home, condominium or apartment) is already registered to host short-term rentals,visit the City's Property Information Map, search for the address of the property, and click on the 'Planning Apps' tab. A Short-Term Rental Certificate will be listed (at the bottom of the Planning Apps screen) if one is currently active on the property.

Please note that pending or denied applications for a Certificate are not displayed on the Property Information Map.

For properties located in RH-1(D) zoning districts, neighborhood notification is required. This means that if you live in one of these districts, after you submit a complete application we will send a courtesy notice, with your name and address, to all property owners and residential tenants who live within 300 feet of your unit (and nearby neighborhood groups registered with the Planning Department). They will have 45 days to submit comments to us. Neighborhood input will only affect your application if someone submits sufficient evidence that you, or your unit is not eligible to host short-term rentals.

You can check to see if you live in an RH-1(D) district on the Property Information Map. Search for your address, and then choose the Zoning tab on the right to see your zoning district.

Many private agreements such as homeowner’s association bylaws, and Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) prohibit subletting or use of your dwelling unit as a short-term rental. While the City does not enforce these types of private agreements, the Office of Short-Term Rentals strongly recommends that you review such agreements before submitting an application.

2. Have property liability insurance
You must have property liability insurance in the amount of no less than $500,000, or provide proof that property liability coverage in an equal or higher amount is being provided by any and all hosting platforms through which you will rent your unit. Proof of liability insurance is not required if hosting activity is only handed by a platform (website) that already extends similar liability coverage.

3. Resolve any code violations
Ensure that your dwelling unit remains compliant with all Building, Housing, Planning, and other City codes. If your dwelling unit (apartment/suite) is located within an apartment building or tenancy-in-common (TIC) building, then the entire property (including other dwelling units) must be compliant and not subject to Code Enforcement.

What is allowed once I'm a certified host?

Once you have received a Short-Term Residential Rental Registration Number you may:

  • Put up listing(s) on hosting platform websites (including your registration number in all listings).
  • Rent a portion of your unit for less than 30 consecutive nights while you are also present (hosted rentals) for an unlimited number of nights per calendar year
  • Rent a portion or your entire unit for less than 30 consecutive nights while you are not present (unhosted rentals), for a maximum of 90 nights per calendar year

What you may never do with your registered dwelling unit:

  • You may never rent your residential unit or a portion of your home for more than 90 nights per calendar year while you are not also present overnight during the time of the guests' stay.
  • You may never rent illegal residential units, or those areas within your home that were built without completed building permits.
  • If you are a tenant (renter) in a rent-controlled unit, you may never make more than your monthly rent from your short-term rental fees charged in the same month to guests.
  • You may not offer more than 5 individual short-term rental reservations within your dwelling unit at the same time (i.e. offer no more than 5 individual beds as separate, bookable listings).

What if my application is rejected or my certificate is revoked or suspended?

If your application for a certificate is rejected, suspended, or if a previously-issued certificate has been revoked by the Office of Short-Term Rentals, you may file a written appeal within thirty calendar days from the date of the notice of rejection, suspension, or revocation. Hosts must cancel any pending reservations (for stays of less than 30 days) and remove any online listings (offering stays of less than 30 days), if an application is denied (even if an appeal is filed), or if a certificate is suspended or revoked (even if an appeal is filed). For further information, please review these procedures.